The mustard seed

The mustard seed

Parable of the Lamp. The Tares. The Seed. The Mustard Seed. The Leaven.

(The Gospel History, Section 51)

And he said, How shall we liken the kingdom of heaven? or in what parable shall we set it forth? It is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is less than all the seeds that are upon the earth, yet when it is sown, groweth up and becometh greater than all the herbs, and becometh a tree, and putteth forth great branches; so that the birds of the heaven come and lodge under the shadow thereof.

The mustard seed

(The Saviour of the World, Vol III Book II Poem XX)

The Master paused, for in His eye
The Kingdom showed all gloriously;—
“Nay, how shall We make manifest
To weary souls the Kingdom’s rest?
What parable shall serve to show
How sudden in its broad fields grow
Least seeds of virtue, germs of faith,
There where no harms have power to scathe?

“A man took grain of mustard seed
(So small a thing to take with heed!)
He sowed it in his field, and, lo,
E’en in a day he saw it grow;
Week after week it still uprose,
Higher than any herb that grows;
Still higher scales the air, and see,
That smallest seed become a tree!

“Its branches spread, great branches, they
Give shelter from the sun’s hot ray;
From storm and tempest, see, they shield
The men and beasts are in the field:
In them the small birds sit and sing,
Seek here their nests on eager wing:—
This wealth of life doth all proceed
From that so inconspicuous seed!”


The eager men thought they perceived
This tale of th’ Kingdom them relieved
From anxious care lest seed, so small,
It scarce could yield a plant at all!
With joy beheld they least of seeds
Produce a tree for poor folks’ needs,
Where sheltered souls sing blithe and play,
And rear up broods as glad as they!

The Church, the Kingdom is, and see,
A little word may bid it be:
It spreads and grows and fills the field
Which did one inch of surface yield
For its first planting: See, it thrives;
Men gather thick as bees in hives;
In ’ts branches, straight, they congregate
And bask them in so fair estate!

The Church itself, how small a thing
That day ’twas planted by the King!
Twelve Chosen Men the mighty band
Should carry Light to every land,
Should conquer kings, peoples restrain,
And, sin-diseased, make born-again!
The secret of their power, that Word,
Mighty to grow where it is heard!

St. Matthew xiii. 31, 32.
St. Mark iv. 30-32.